President Trump rescinds VISA policy for international students; UK student breathing sigh of relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – President Trump rescinded a policy Tuesday that originally planned to deny VISAs to international students if classes went to online learning because of COVID-19.

Sue Roberts leads the international center at the University of Kentucky, home base for the university’s 1,500 international students.

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“It doesn’t put our international students immediately in jeopardy. So, that is a huge relief to us to our students and to everybody,” Roberts said.

She says the last week or so has been beyond stressful for students and staff.

“It caused a great deal of anxiety and confusion, and just generally resulted in a lot of chaos,”Roberts said.

Doctoral candidate Melissa Molho studies plant pathology and researches plant viruses at the University of Kentucky.

She was scheduled to graduate this August, but the pandemic forced her to stop her research and dissertation work. Then there was a moment she thought she would have to give up her 6 years of work at UK.

“I just like googling just to make sure that it was true, because I couldn’t believe it,” Molho said when she first heard the news. “We’re just going to be deported, because of something we cannot control?”

Tuesday, just before a hearing with 17 universities suing the federal government, the Trump Administration said it won’t follow through on the policy.

Feeling safe as in, feeling safe from coronavirus, if UK this fall has to go to online learning only.

“It was a big relief because pretty much we didn’t need to choose between feel safe, or being in the country,” Molho said.

Right now, the university does expect to have in-person classes.

And Roberts says keeping international students at UK benefits more than just the student, it’s helping solve problems and create opportunities.

“That’s what research universities do, they convene the best minds and the most eager learners from around the world to put that heads together on on a problem or a project. So at the University of Kentucky we value our international students,” Roberts said.

An appreciation of diversity.

The same reason Molho said she wanted to study in the U.S. and ultimately Kentucky.

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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or Mharkins@wtvq.com